Erik Karlsson finished off a spectacular season by winning the Norris Trophy at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas. This is Karlsson's second Norris in just four years. He is the only Senator to win the award since the trophy was first given out in 1954.
The 2014-15 season was the third time in the past four years Karlsson has lead the entire league in points by a defenseman. And it most likely would have been four straight years if he hadn't suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the 2012-13 season, which had him appear in only 17 games. This past season, Karlsson racked up 66 points while the closest defensemen to him were Brent Burns and fellow Norris nominee P.K. Subban with 60.
Always a popular justification for sound defensive play - although one might argue a completely flawed statistic - Karlsson's plus/minus was above even, adding up to plus-7 for the season. After a being a dismal minus-15 the year before, it was satisfying to see him excel in an area many critics have used to lambaste him with in the past.
What makes this win most impressive may be the fact that Karlsson played 1132 minutes with an experimental defense partner, and only 779 with his regular sidekick, Marc Methot. While he did manage to have about half a season with Methot, Karlsson was anchored to bottom pairing players for a great deal of the season. He played with Chris Phillips for 343 minutes and Mark Borowiecki for 224. That's quite the mountain to climb.
The Karlsson-related news has been wonderful the past few days. First, the NHL announces 3-on-3 overtime is to commence at the start of the 2015-16 season, leaving Senators fans salivating at the opportunity to witness their Swedish sensation dazzle with more open ice than ever. And now, the hockey world has once again been reassured that Erik Karlsson is in fact the best defenseman on the planet.
From all of us at Silver Seven, congratulations to Erik on a phenomenal season!